Friday, December 30, 2011

China Sets Sights On Moon

China has just unveiled a five-year plan for putting astronauts on the moon, which would make it the first nation to visit since the U.S. last set foot there some 40 years ago.Though China has asserted it's desire to send a manned shuttle to the moon this is the first official statement by the country stating their intent. "China will conduct studies on the preliminary plan for a human lunar landing," according to the state council, also calling for deep-space exploration of other planets and asteroids. Though there is no deadline for the launch the announcement is seen as an official declaration of China's lunar goals. The plans come as the U.S. manned spaceflight program is in indefinite hiatus, with NASA's space shuttle fleet retired and International Space Station missions dependent on Russian rockets. While President George W. Bush called for a return to the moon by 2020, President Obama canceled the program due to high costs but has proposed sending Americans to an asteroid by 2025.
China is also building its own prototype space station, the Tiangong 1, before construction of a Mir-class station. It has already mapped the moon with the Chang'e-1 lunar probe, and plans to send the Shenzhou-9 and Shenzhou-10 spacecraft to dock with Tiangong-1 in 2012. "Since 2006, Long March rockets have accomplished 67 successful launches, sending 79 spacecraft into planned orbits and demonstrating noteworthy improvement in the reliability of China's launch vehicles." Although the space program is backed by the People's Liberation Army, the government asserts the program is entirely peaceful: "China always adheres to the use of outer space for peaceful purposes, and opposes weaponization or any arms race in outer space."
China Sets Sights On Moon

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